Prime Minister
Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP
Prime Minister’s Office
10 Downing Street

OPEN LETTER TO THE PRIME MINISTER ON THE ALLEGATIONS OF THE USE OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS IN IRAQI KURDISTAN

Dear Prime Minister

For some time, Peace in Kurdistan has been highlighting allegations of the use of chemical weapons against the PKK in Northern Iraq, which until now have gone unsubstantiated. That is no longer the case. We attach here the report “Is Turkey violating the Chemical Weapons Convention?” by Dr. Josef Savary and Dr Jan van Aken from IPPNW Switzerland/Germany. [1]

We further draw your attention to Dr Şebnem Korur, the respected President of the Turkish Medical Association, who in a recent statement said that the Turkish Armed Forces have used chemical weapons, that the chemical gases used in these attacks directly affect the human nervous system, that these gases are being used despite the fact that they are prohibited, that it is obligatory under international conventions for an independent delegation to conduct an investigation in the affected region, and that – within the scope of the implementation of international conventions and the Geneva Convention prohibiting the use of chemical weapons – the principles of the Minnesota Protocol need to be considered when such an allegation arises. [2]

The Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar openly acknowledged in the Turkish parliament the use of tear gas during a military operation against the PKK in Northern Iraq. This is an outright violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention and should be pursued legally by the international community.[3]

It is now absolutely beyond doubt that Turkish forces are using banned chemical weapons attacks in their battle against the Kurds. This is a serious indictment of those international bodies that are tasked with investigating allegations of the use of chemical weapons. The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has as yet steadfastly refused to engage with the allegations. There must now be serious questions as to why this is the case? The refusal has led to the allegations being dismissed as false. It has led to a continuation of these war crimes with impunity. It is appalling that the apparently weaker party to a conflict can be ignored in this way in the face of the denial of the aggressor, Turkey, with its second largest army in NATO. It’s a disgrace that Kurdish people continue to die, continue to be collateral damage.

We ask you now how can this situation be moved on? What is the British Government going to do in response to this new situation?

No major state is as yet supporting the idea that the OPCW should carry out its duties in conducting an independent investigation into this situation. On 27th September of last year, the then Minister of State for Europe, Mr James Cleverly MP responded to a question about Turkish use of chemical weapons saying they had not investigated the allegations and gave no commitment to do.[4]

On the 17th December 2021 Lord Ahmed in response to a question on the same subject said “The United Kingdom opposes the use of chemical weapons in all circumstances. We take any credible evidence of the use of chemical weapons very seriously. We have been monitoring the recent allegations of chemical weapons use in northern Iraq but the allegations remain unsubstantiated. Any evidence should be shared with States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention and provided through appropriate channels to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Technical Secretariat.” We share with you now further evidence as outlined in our first paragraph.

We now call on you to act in line with your stated opposition to the use of chemical weapons by using your position of influence to require the OPCW to initiate an investigation at the first possible opportunity. We eagerly await your response.

References

[1] https://www.peaceinkurdistancampaign.com/is-turkey-violating-the-chemical-weapons-convention/

[2] https://peoplesdispatch.org/2022/10/26/president-of-turkish-medical-association-sebnem-korur-fincanci-detained/

[3] https://www.peaceinkurdistancampaign.com/news/

[4] https://questions-statements.parliament.uk/written-questions?SearchTerm=Turkey+chemical+weapons&DateFrom=16%2F09%2F2021&DateTo=28%2F04%2F2023&AnsweredFrom=&AnsweredTo=&House=Commons&Answered=Any&Expanded=True

Monday, 31 October 2022

Peace in Kurdistan

Campaign for a political solution of the Kurdish Question

Email: estella@gn.apc.org

Home page

Contacts Estella Schmid: 07846 666 804 & Melanie Gingell: 07572 430903

 

Patrons: John Austin, Baroness Blower of Starch Green, former GS NUT, Prof Bill Bowring, Julie Christie, Noam Chomsky, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Maggie Cook, UNISON women activist; Prof Mary Davis, Lord Dholakia, Simon Dubbins, UNITE International Director, Jill Evans, former MEP, Desmond Fernandes, Lindsey German, Convenor STWC, Melanie Gingell, Christopher Gingell, Prof Dr. Michael Gunter, Secretary-General, EU Turkey Civic Commission (EUTCC), Rahila Gupta, journalist, Nick Hildyard, policy advisor, Dafydd Iwan, Former President Plaid Cymru, James Kelman, Bruce Kent, Jean Lambert, former MEP, Dr Les Levidow, Open University, Elfyn Llwyd, John McDonnell MP; Aonghas MacNeacail, Scottish Gaelic poet, Mike Mansfield QC, David Morgan, journalist, Doug Nicholls, General Secretary, GFTU, Dr. Jessica Ayesha Northey, Sinn Fein MLA Conor Murphy, Dr Thomas Jeffrey Miley, Kate Osamor MP, Margaret Owen OBE, Ali Gul Ozbek, Former Councillor and Mayor of Haringey; Gareth Peirce, Dr Felix Padel, Maxine Peake, actor, Dr Thomas Phillips, Liverpool John Moores University, Trevor Rayne, writer, Joe Ryan, Bert Schouwenburg, International Trade Union Adviser; Tony Simpson, Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation, Stephen Smellie, PIK Trade Union Liaison Officer, Jonathan Steele, journalist, Steve Sweeney, journalist, Gianni Tognoni, General Secretary Permanent People’s Tribunal, Dr Tove Skutnabb-Kangas, Dr Federico Venturini, Associate Researcher, University of Udine, Italy; Dr Tom Wakeford, Dr Derek Wall, Julie Ward, former MEP, Kariane Westrheim, Chair, EU Turkey Civic Commission (EUTCC); Hywel Williams MP.